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Grace Digital WiFi Micro System GDI-IRMS300 Review

by April 22, 2011
Grace Digital WiFi Micro System GDI-IRMS300

Grace Digital WiFi Micro System GDI-IRMS300

  • Product Name: WiFi Micro System GDI-IRMS300
  • Manufacturer: Grace Digital
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarhalf-star
  • Review Date: April 22, 2011 02:15
  • MSRP: $ 249.99
  • Buy Now
Over 50,000 Radio Stations, Podcasts, etc
Supports: Pandora, NPR, iheartradio, Live365 and PREMIMUM SIRIUS XM internet radio, Weatherbug, Rhapsody
Grace iPhone Touch remote control app
4 line backlit LCD display
Remote w/ 10 presets, Pandora up / down and skip buttons
5 presets on radio + 99 favorites

16 watt RMS (50 peak) Class D amplifier
2 x 3.5" mains + 1" tweeters
3.5mm Stereo headphone jack
RCA input/output jacks
Dual band equalizer
Supported audio: AIFF, AIFC, WAVE, CAF, NeXT, ADTS, MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, WMA
Supported playlist formats: ASX, M3U, PLS
Supported protocols: HTTP, HTTPS, RTSP, WSMP, Shoutcast
Stream audio files from PC or MAC
802.11b/g/n wireless connectivity
Supports WPA Personal, WPA2-AES, and 64/128-bit WEP encryption
USB connection for playing local media
Optional USB to Ethernet networking

Clock & Alarm
12 or 24 hour clock with date
Clock is auto synched via the internet
5 individual alarms
Wake to buzzer or music
Set each alarm for daily, weekly, weekend, week days or one time
Sleep Timer: 30 seconds to 23 hours
30 backlight brightness settings


  • Easy to setup and use
  • Free iPhone app for full-color controls!


  • Flimsy control knob
  • Thin frequency response
  • Low quality speaker components


GDI-IRMS300 Build Quality

I like WiFi radios. They free you from the constraints of anchoring yourself to a physical disc and they really create opportunity to listen to music wherever you have access to power. With the Grace Digital Wifi Stereo System (Model GDI-IRMS300) you get even more because the unit comes with a 2x16W Class-D amplifier and a pair of 2-way mini bookshelf speakers. This makes the system completely portable, though not in the "carry it around with you sense" and makes it the perfect addition to any small office or dormitory in need of tunes. Best yet, the company both organizes and consolidates your music in a way that is refreshing and simple. Whether its Pandora, Rhapsody, Internet radio, or streaming music from your local Mac or PC, Grace Digital's Micro Bookshelf system seems to pull it off.

Build Quality

micro headWe liked the brushed aluminum look of the Grace Digital Micro Bookshelf system. It's certainly compact and has an almost retro look. It sort of comes across as high-end, though not terribly original. On front you've got access to an 1/8-inch headphone jack, a master on/off toggle switch (very retro!) and the 3-line antiquated (but retro!) backlit LCD display. The LCD display has terrible off-axis viewing that is inconsistent and may actually be more or less unviewable at some angles (up and to the left, for example). If you look at it head-on it's easy to see. On top of the unit is the control interface, should you lose your remote (more on that later) and it features a rotating brushed aluminum control knob plus an assortment of buttons - most notably an oversized Snooze bar that works with the radio/alarm functions of the Micro System.

micro controls

On back you've got a USB interface that can be used with an external thumb drive, but also doubles (with an optional adapter) as a port for hardwiring an RJ45 jack into your unit. There is an auxiliary input and also a line output. The speaker connections are the cheap spring clips, but they are very strong and certainly sufficient for what you should be using this system for. Lastly, the removable WiFi antenna screws into place and can pivot as needed to avoid obstacles.

micro connections

woofer cabinetThe twin micro bookshelf speakers that come with the Grace Digital system are small enough to be placed just about anywhere. They feature a 3.5" woofer and a 1" soft dome tweeter. The box is made from 1/2-inch MDF and, while there is plenty of bracing, there is no dampening material. On top of that, don't expect miracles from this speaker, the crossover system is a simple soldered 3.3uF 110V capacitor. Given our calculations that puts the first order crossover point at around 6kHz, assuming the tweeter is 8-ohms - a bit too high in our opinion (the tweeter is really more for "sizzle" than true high frequency use).

tweeter cap

GDI-IRMS300 Setup, Testing and Conclusion

micro connectSetup is actually a bit involved, but the good thing is that it remembers everything, including network passwords and login information for Pandora, Rhapsody and the Grace Digital online system (which manages your radio stations, etc), so the "pain" is short-lived. In a nutshell, here is the general procedure:

  • Power the unit and allow it to scan for local Wifi networks
  • Select your desired network and enter the key if needed (using the large select dial on the unit - push to confirm the correct letter/number/symbol; select 'END' to finish)

LCD screen 

This gets you up and running and ready to listen to over 16,000 free Internet radio stations. To do more, you'll ant to register your radio with Gracenote's system. Here's how that works.

  • Select 'Settings' from the bottom of the Main Menu
  • Select {Register} which gives you a registration code
  • Register the radio on www.grace.reciva.com by entering the code provided by the Micro System
  • Create your account online

At this point additional choices will be available on your Internet Radio and you can also use the website to customize the selections which will be available to you on the radio. It's a cool system that pulls a lot of things together into one place, though it has its limitations (we had trouble getting the AV Rant podcast to show up, for example, even with a direct link).

Grace Reciva website

Testing and Use

We liked the basic use of the Grace Digital Micro Bookshelf Radio. It's easy to get around and we weren't hampered much by the limited LCD display (even more-so when we learned you could use you iPhone to control it - but more on that later). The large control dial is actually slippery and we found that often our fingers would slide around in a circle, but the knob wasn't actually moving. This was made even worse by the fact that the knob tilts a bit on its axis - making it truly feel like it's spinning, when it's not. The key is to press down significantly and feel the tactile clicking that occurs when the knob adjusts. Overall it could do with a better construction and more secure "grippy" texture across the top.

loudspeaker beauty

We liked how the system remembers where you were last, so when you boot it up - even if you had turned it completely off, it will go back and pick up where you were. The speakers sound quite thin, with very little low frequency response, but plenty of boominess in the lower mids and lots of compressed-sounding sizzle up top. Midrange is anemic at best and overall it provides sound, but not with anything approaching high fidelity. One thing we found, by accident, was that the system sounded a lot better when we set the speakers on the ground. In this way the bass took on a more fuller sound, with better response and the highs weren't nearly as piercing. Of course, we have wood floors with an opening underneath, so my entire subfloor was turned into a giant resonant chamber. As a near-field system, we actually recommend the speakers be kept straight and listening be done off-axis.

We listened to several tracks from our mp3 collection as well as plenty of Pandora music. In all cases the results were pleasing enough for a smaller system, but nothing that took our breath away, especially given the price ($249). It was more the functionality that we enjoyed as well as the ability to pull in music from so many different sources. Grace Digital has, at least, aggregated all of the most common places you're likely to stream or store your music and put it into one place. They also allow for nearly every conceivable format, so you don't have to re-compress your music if you have it in WAV, FLAC, AAC, WMA, Ogg Vorbis, etc...

Remote & iPod App

So the most impressive thing we stumbled upon was the free Grace App for iPod that allows you to browse, stream, arrange and control your Micro Bookshelf Audio System with ease. It renders the limited display moot and replaces the so-so remote control with a veritable treasure trove of control options.

stream mp3 stream pandora
Streaming MP3 from my Mac laptop (left) and Pandora from the Internet (right)

What's nice is that the interface provides meta data as well as full color album covers. It's very nice and represents what e feel is a growing (and hopefully permanent) trend of 2-way control over digital electronics. It won't be long before manufacturers can start rethinking remote control development in light of inevitable smart phone control.


I can say a lot about the Grace Digital Micro System (GDI-IRMS300). It's small, efficient, and can be controlled to an extent previous not thought possible with an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch. While the sound is not stellar, that's not to say it's awful, it's just not where Grace Digital put their money. In fact, we're not sure where they put it. With competition from Logitech's Squeezebox Radio, among others, Grace Digital is (perhaps) attempting to capture the diminishing Micro Stereo market, replacing CD with MP3 and focusing on file compatibility and a retro look. It also offers Wireless n connectivity, something that is only now starting to catch on, and Grace Digital seems to have beat everyone to the punch when they released this system. In these things they have succeeded, and we're certain some will find this a very compelling system. At $249 it's not very expensive, but it also has a lot of competition, which is perhaps why we're being so hard on it.

Grace Digital Micro System

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About Grace Digital Audio
Grace Digital Audio is a designer and manufacturer of connected home consumer electronic products including, Internet radios, USB archival solutions, media players, wireless speakers and other indoor/outdoor communications products. Grace Digital's family of services includes Pandora Radio, SIRIUS, iheartradio, Live365, NPR, and CBS Radio. Grace Digital Audio sells its products through major retailers, ecommerce sites, dealers and distributors throughout North America. To learn more about Grace Digital products please visit them at www.gracedigitalaudio.com.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Audio PerformanceStarStar
Network Features/PerformanceStarStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStar
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStar
Ease of Setup/Programming/IntegrationStarStar
Remote ControlStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
About the author:
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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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